On this video, part of a series “laws of light” by photographer Jay P. Morgan from The The Slanted Lens looks at working with beauty dishes and in particular the (relatively) new Westcott Beauty Dish Switch unit which is travel friendly and has a few interesting features.
We have looked at beauty dishes in the past and they can be very interesting lighting modifiers providing a mix of soft and hard lights. Traditional beauty dishes are, well – dishes made from hard metal which you can’t really travel with or store in a compact way (if you have a big studio and you don’t need to move them – that might be fine but if you want them on location you need a different solution).
A few years ago photographer Joel Grimes partnered with Westcott to create the Beauty Dish Switch – this is a sort of a foldable octagon softbox with a beauty dish properties and a few nifty features. First, it has a small round insert which you can decide to use (creating the look of the beauty dish) or no use (getting the more common softbox look). The unit is also easily foldable for travel and you can choose which mount to use for it including
Morgan plays around with the dish, trying it out close by and further away with and without the insert and with and without the optional grid. You can check out the results for yourself – we feel that the differences on the face are typically not that huge but you can very easily see the difference in the background (the insert focuses more of the light on your subject and less light falls on the background. The grid also helps you “focus” the light but maybe the most important lesson is that you would probably want to keep the beauty dish quite close to your subject (if you want the beauty dish effect).
As always, there is no right or wrong here, just as Morgan mentions, it all depends on the look that you are after and you need to understand how the modifier work and what it can and can’t do in different situations in order to reach your creative vision.
You can check out the rest of the Laws of Light videos we published in the past from this series on this link.